After two weeks into the NFL's player acquisition period, many of you are asking the question: Is the NFC North now the toughest division in football?
The Chicago Bears made one major improvement, trading for receiver Brandon Marshall, and a number of smart moves on the secondary market. The Detroit Lions managed to retain the core of a 10-6 team despite a tight salary-cap situation. And the Green Bay Packers, are, well, the Packers.
(It's tough to include the Minnesota Vikings in this discussion at the moment, but nobody's perfect.)
So on this Friday afternoon, we have an unscientific answer to your question. ESPN.com's pre-draft Power Rankings places three of our teams in the top 10. Our average ranking of 12.9 is the second-highest among the eight divisions, behind the NFC East, but the Vikings' standing pulled down that average.
3. Green Bay Packers
Ended 2011 season: 1
7. Detroit Lions
Ended 2011 season: 8
Comment: It's fair to say that our panel doesn't see the Lions as a one-year wonder. Nor should it.
10. Chicago Bears
Ended 2011 season: 20
Comment: Offseason rankings often reflect the previous year's finish, but obviously our voters are impressed with the Bears' offseason thus far.
31. Minnesota Vikings
Ended 2011 season: 30
Comment: Only the gutted Indianapolis Colts are ranked lower. Yikes.